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The beauty of Bar Cotto, Ethan Stowell’s modern, zinc-motif joint on Capitol Hill, is not just the salumi. The beauty is wrapping the paper-thin prosciutto around a hot, deep-fried dough ball and letting the fat mold on like a second skin.

It’s food porn of the highest order.

Bar Cotto is the wonderful, porky venture that the peripatetic Stowell came up with after his excursion to Parma, Italy, last spring.

Opened on Valentine’s Day, Bar Cotto is his ode to the salumeria of Parma and to other simple pleasures of Italy — one-topping pizza, sparkling red wine, negronis and three-ingredient cocktails with herbal liqueurs.

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For a chef who once loathed happy hour, Stowell has embraced that after-work tradition with gusto in recent years: Bar Cotto is one of the best new happy hours in Seattle.

Pizzas topped with Parma prosciutto, guanciale or other cured meats are half-off. They have a chewy, thin crust, made with dough that’s been aged for three days for a gamy funkiness that marries well with cured meat.

The sour-salty combo of pickled peppers and mortadella is one of the best happy-hour pizzas I’ve had in recent memory. To cut into the fatty salumi and cheese? A dry sparkling red, Lambrusco ($6), is the way to go here.

Among the many crimes against prosciutto is slicing it too thick. Here, the meat is cut to order, and translucently thin. The speck is soft, not waxy like the cheap varieties served elsewhere in Seattle ($7 per meat or three meats for $18).

There’s also a melt-in-your mouth, peppery porchetta made in-house. And don’t miss the torta fritta ($3). They are like savory beignets, waiting to be wrapped in the glory of pork.

Bar Cotto, 1546 15th Ave., offers happy hour from 4-6 p.m. daily with $8 pizza, $5 salads, $2-$6 beers and $6 wine including Lambrusco (206-838-8081 or

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle

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